Submitted Date 04/30/2019

Keep Your Eyes On The Prize
Age 19, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1963
The Civil Rights Movement
(I am in this photograph, far right, holding the right side of the banner.)

-- This is one poem, in an autobiographical series of poems, I posted here at WriteSpike. Go to my stories section for others. They are in chronological order. --

"Henry, what are you doing in there?"
[Ralph Waldo Emerson asked of Thoreau in jail]
"Waldo, the question is what are you doing out there?"

~ Henry David Thoreau ~
(replying about his actions, the first case of civil disobedience)

My head was on the floor
next to the back seat
my toes almost to the roof
and the two policemen in the front
were not happy

but the sit-in at Brady's Barbecue
had gone off without a hitch

relaxed like jelly,
it had taken two cops to carry me
out of the restaurant booth
and then chuck me in the back
along with others,
until the squad car was full

now screaming up the steep hill
siren wailing, lights flashing
we were headed to the station
for photos, fingerprints,
and a night in the county jail

in the morning we'd get a breakfast
of thick fried baloney covered in flour gravy
white rice crusted with melted sugar
and coffee with chicory
before we were bailed out
in the afternoon

non-violence had to be learned

instead of hitting back
we went limp;
and like military training
it became natural

it did not matter
if we were marching and being spat on
or sitting-in and being arrested
we did the same thing
the burden of actions, the moral choices
were on those who opposed us

upstairs above the funeral home -
before we went out onto the streets -
a preacher raised our spirits:
"Don't let them get to you
you are better than they are;
when they curse and throw rocks
look straight ahead"

however, we lost in Chapel Hill
and many of the leaders were given
long prison terms

yet nine months later
the Civil Rights Act became law

and on that day
I went to Brady's Restaurant
with my black friends
and we ate barbecue

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  • Kiersten Felch 4 months, 2 weeks ago

    A little slice of history in your life!!!

    • Rick Doble 4 months, 2 weeks ago

      I'm very proud I was a part of that and that I could contribute something.

  • Jared Clawson 4 months, 1 week ago

    I have to say, I absolutely love this poetry autobiography you've been posting here. I thoroughly enjoy experiencing a little bit of your incredible life each time you post. Thanks for sharing!

    • Rick Doble 4 months, 1 week ago

      Thanks Jared -- Well, we're up to age 20 so far -- and we've still got 40 more years to go -- so hold onto your hats.

  • Miranda Fotia 4 months, 1 week ago

    it did not matter if we were marching and being spat on or sitting-in and being arrested we did the same thing nothing
    I would have a hard time with people spitting on me. My grandpa was spat on when he got back from Vietnam and also did nothing. It takes a lot of inner strength to not react to an act so vile and personal.

    • Rick Doble 4 months, 1 week ago

      I was against the Vietnam war from the very beginning, even when Kennedy was president. BUT I was horrified that soldiers who had gone to that war and fought bravely with a love of their country were treated so badly by others.

    • Miranda Fotia 4 months, 1 week ago

      I think he must have been against it too. He spent a lot of his time afterwards trying to rescue and bring back the Montagnard people. Even when he died he had a fund set up for them.